This morning I had to get Steve out of bed before he slept the day away. It wasn't very late, but had I not woken him and made him feel guilty for not getting up, I'm fairly certain he wouldn't have gotten out of bed till noon! I probably should have let him sleep, it is his vacation and all, but this is the only full day we'd have to do a lot of stuff, and I didn't want to waste it. : )
We started out getting breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The host was very, very friendly with Steve. Like, weirdly friendly. He followed us to our table and actually asked Steve some inappropriate questions, like how much he weighed! Wha? It was very strange. I thought maybe he was flirting with Steve, as he was a bit effete, but I noticed he was wearing a wedding band. Of course, that could mean anything these days. My guess is that his marriage may not have been legal in Tennessee, if you know what I mean. :). It is actually kind of funny in retrospect, because Steve was trying to be nice, but you could tell he was very uncomfortable. I asked him later if he was weirded out because the guy was flirting with him, but he said no. He was actually more uncomfortable with a complete stranger trying to start a conversation with him! Ha! I'm sure the guy didn't mean any harm, but he had some boundary issues for sure.
After escaping from the restaurant, we headed towards the Parkway, which is what the main drag here is actually called. We parked and began walking. our first stop was at Cooter's, the Dukes of Hazzard museum and gift shop place. We spent a loooong time in there. Steve is a big fan, remember? The museum was actually fairly small, but had a lot of neat stuff in it. Mostly the things on display were props, costumes and merchandise, but it was pretty interesting. Steve got a few souvenirs, but he wouldn't let me get a Dixie horn for the Seabring. I was crushed.
We walked on, popping in and out of different shops that looked interesting. It was really muggy outside, and I was sweating so bad. It was gross! We visited a Hollywood Car Museum, which was fun (and also had awesome air conditioning.) We walked on along a bit further, but soon decided to cross the road and start heading back. By this time we were really hot and probably more than a little dehydrated, so to remedy that, guess what we decided to do? A moonshine tasting! True story. Did you know that there is a distillery right here in Gatlinburg that makes legal moonshine in many different favors? Did you also know that the distillery's store lets you taste all the flavors you want, for free, like some kind of hillbilly wine tasting? Steve and I were curious as to what it would taste like, so we showed our IDs and got a tiny plastic cup that looked like the kind we use during the Lord's Supper. I chose the peach kind, while Steve got the plain White Lightening. You know what? Moonshine is gross. No offense to the fine distillers or anything, because I'm sure the product is just not for me, but it tasted like rubbing alcohol that someone had soaked a gummi bear in. Bleh. Steve was also not impressed. Needless to say, we did not try another flavor! Oh, and to add some fun to that, I was just dehydrated enough to get a tiny bit buzzed. Honestly, a thimble-full of moonshine and my hearing got dim and my head and nose got really warm on the inside. It's sad, really. We walked a bit further and visited a "mall" where I convinced Steve to get into one of those water massage chambers. He had hurt his back on the golf course, and I thought it would help. Unfortunately for him, he didn't take the lady's advice and drink any water after he was done to flush the lactic acid, so he began feeling bad, but he didn't tell me until way later.
We finally got down to the aquarium, which I was so excited about! Seeing it was the only thing I knew for sure I wanted to do while we were here. Honestly, though, the visit immediately started off being very, very irritating and disappointing. First off, the place was packed. Apparently a lot of people had decided to visit that day, including a very large group from a family reunion (you knew they were all together because they were wearing the same reunion t-shirt.) I knew the place wasn't going to be empty, so the problem wasn't that it was crowded, but the people with that family reunion were so freaking rude!
There is a kind of courtesy I always assume most people should try to follow while in a place like an aquarium or a museum: you go and look at the things, don't surround it so that other people can see, don't shove your way in front of people, and after a reasonable amount of time, you move on. This family had either never been to an aquarium, or quite possibly had never been in public, before because they did the opposite of all of those things. I approached the first tank, and was immediately shoved out of the way by some kids who apparently didn't think I needed to see the fish. I stood back, waiting my turn, but they didn't move! Seriously, I kept waiting and that knot of people just stood there talking. Ok then, I moved on. At every freaking tank, a knot of people from this family would block everyone else. They'd stand there and talk, scream, laugh, and make camera videos of the fish. Seriously? That kind of thing is ok if you don't have a thousand people waiting behind you, but to bottleneck a whole room full of people while you pretend you are the only ones there? Unacceptable. To make matters worse, 3/4ths of the women there were pushing strollers the size of Volkswagens. Why would a baby the size of a house cat need a thing so big? Hell even if they did need it, wouldn't it make sense not to bring it into a place so full of people that you can barely move, much less maneuver a stroller? I don't mean to offend any mothers out there, and I speak from the ignorant position of someone who is child-free, but that was the icing on the cake of inconsideration. I'm sure it wasn't meant to be that way, but it would seem like common sense to me. Anyways...enough about that. Steve and I kept getting separated, so I was basically by myself for most of the time. Boo. We met up and lost each other a hundred times, but we finally managed to get to the moving sidewalk at the same time! Woot! That was actually pretty neat, because it took us through a glass tube that ran through the big tank in the middle of the aquarium, and we got to see the sharks and sea turtles and stuff. The only bad part was that the family got behind us and spent most of the excursion screaming and bumping into us. I ended up walking off of the conveyer belt before it was over just to get away from them. Luckily, after that things got much better. It was still plenty crowded, but the family reunion people must have left, because I didn't see many of them after that, and the groups of people that remained seemed to have a better idea how to behave in public. I enjoyed everything much more after that, and although I was disappointed that there were no otters at this aquarium, I did make friends with a penguin named Riley. He was so cute. I'd never seen penguins up close before, and now I love them! :)
We finally made our way out, and started back to the car. We'd decided to drive into Pigeon Forge and go to a store we'd been told about, but we never found it. We used the GPS to no avail, we drove around forever, and although we saw the buildings that were supposed to be near it, we just never saw it. I'm beginning to think we were tricked! We finally gave up looking and stopped in a place to get some dinner. We apparently got seated in one of the "event" rooms where a small wedding reception was going on, so that was a bit awkward. There were a couple of other people not involved with the wedding sitting in there, too, so it wasn't too bad. I just felt like we were intruding a bit. By the time we were done eating, Steve had really begun to feel bad, so we came back to the room at about 6:00 and he fell asleep. He's been asleep ever since. I hope whatever is wrong doesn't get any worse! I'm still wide awake, though, so I've got to figure out something to do until I get sleepy.
It was a long, and except for a few wrinkles, fun day. :)